Setting Competitive Wages in Oregon

by Anna Johnson

April 18, 2019

Each year the Oregon Employment Department publishes several wage data points (percentiles and means) for several hundred occupations. Wage data is collected semiannually through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, which measures occupational employment and wage rates for payroll workers. In Oregon, the survey samples more than 6,000 establishments each year, taking three years to fully collect the sample of more than 18,000 establishments. Recently, 2018 wage estimates were published on

The Oregon Employment Department's annual wage publication is a useful tool for a wide audience that includes job seekers, employees, employers, career counselors, and other professionals who deal with labor market information. Wages for the various occupations are calculated statewide and for each of Oregon's local workforce areas. Oregon's statewide wage data is published for more than 750 occupations that vary from those paying minimum wage to occupations paying six-figure annual salaries. The number of occupations published varies by region. More populous regions tend to have more occupations published than regions with smaller populations, because larger samples are obtained from regions with larger populations.

What Is a Percentile Wage?

Wages are presented as percentiles in the Oregon wage publication. The 10th percentile wage is the level at which 10 percent of the workers in that occupation earn less and 90 percent earn more. For example, if the 10th percentile wage for an occupation is $15 per hour, 10 percent of the people working in this occupation earn $15 per hour or less and 90 percent earn more than $15 per hour. The median wage, shown at the 50th percentile, is the value in the middle if all values were listed in ascending or descending order.

Using Oregon Wage Information

Oregon wage reports do not take levels of education or work experience into account. The survey used to collect wage data from employers does not ask for wages paid based on education or work experience. The survey asks employers only what wage level is paid to each employee in each occupation. Wages vary by education and experience. Generally, but not always, the more education and work experience people have, the higher their pay.

Employers looking to hire new employees or analyze wages paid to current employees should look at the entire range of wages published in order to make an informed decision. Job seekers can use the range of wages to get an idea of what workers in their desired occupation earn around the state.

The Oregon Employment Department's annual wage publication is a beneficial resource to employers and job seekers alike. Whether it is used to compare current employee wages or to attract new talent, the ability to access statewide and regional occupational wage information adds value to any company's hiring decisions.


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